Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Nerd's Journey (Part 4) : CONNNNNNNNN!

To explain the next few days at San Diego Comic Con is difficult to give anyone the feel for it. There are panels and vendors and seemingly movie and television and writing personalities galore. While many stand in line for hours to see the upcoming movies and television series like Game of Thrones or Hunger Games: Catching Fire or the actors from a host of other movies, one can also go to a variety of panels or just spend hours with vendors and the huge displays. To see the big events a nerd must stand in line for the Panel Room H. Lines for H start often in the wee hours of the morning or in some cases even the night before. You then can plan on standing in line with a few thousand of your soon to be best friends wondering why you paid for a hotel for every night. You can also wonder what other events you could be seeing. This is all so you can see the cast of Catching Fire show you the latest trailer and reveal as little as they can about what might be in the movie. If you're star struck, then I suppose it might be worth it to get a few pictures of a panel that is often broadcast live or taped and released onto YouTube later that same day as is the exclusive trailer. The single advantage is that you can camp.

Unlike Denver Comic Con for example, once you are in a room, you can stay there and move up in your seat as panels change. So the trick is to get into a panel that has a low number count, and then get to eventually the panel you want to see in that same room because the event planners do not clear the room after each panel. It is called camping, and it is done in every room from Hall H to the smallest panel. The most desired panels are usually in the mid to late afternoon so if you can get into a panel in that same room earlier, you can camp until the panel that many others want to see. If you actually mange to get into say Hall H say during one of the less popular panels, like the reunion of secondary characters from Babylon 5, you can camp until Game of Thrones followed by Catching Fire or Ender's Game. They do, however, offer incentives to get you to leave the room.

On the first full morning, my son and I decided that we would try for some of the exclusive merchandise offered by retailers. I had two items I wanted: the limited edition Hallmark Star Trek Ornament and the Limited Edition Cloaked Klingon Warbird from Diamond Select. We failed miserably because the line formed for those items early and they were long gone by the time we made our way to where they would be sold. Only a certain quantity was sold each day, and we missed it. We vowed to do better the next day for round two.

So we spent some time looking at things we wished to buy for us and for my son's kids. We also spent time looking at the lay of the land. It was soon time to find lunch. We'd learned the night before that trying to eat at the themed restaurants was not one of the brighter things to do. The Hard Rock Cafe had been turned into a Defiance themed place where a hamburger, the lowest price item on the menu, was going for $17.95. As we roamed out of the vendor's area, we also found off to one side a small cafeteria that actually had good and reasonably priced food. We ate lunch there twice.

Standing in line to enter into events is the way of things. We did not have to stand in line to get into the building, once we had our badges, (Are you paying attention Denver?) but to enter into most of the bigger panels we had to arrive an hour or so before. Something that you also learn at the event. On one of the days, we had decided to try and get into see a panel about X-Files which was going to feature creator Chris Carter. We arrived too late but stood in line anyways. We figured since X-Files is not really that much of a hot item any more, we might still make it inside. Surprisingly it was still a popular. We also suspected that maybe one of the old stars of the series might show up. Turns out, our suspicions were correct. Both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson showed up for the panel. We didn't get in.

This forced us to find another panel. We roamed into a panel that was actually fairly empty. It was about comic book heroes and animation on the internet. So we sat down to see who was on the panel. About 10 minutes in a special guest came in, Stan Lee. He was humorous. I also had no idea how much he was doing on the internet. At the end of the panel, having listened to the legend that created Spiderman and X-Men, just to mention a few, and having seen an actress modeling a new superhero's costume, we got one of those incentives not to camp. We went for it. Both my son and I received tickets to receive a signed poster and meet Stan Lee. Alas, no photos were allowed of the meet, but we did get the poster.

We also went to a panel on the next version of the video game Assassin's Creed. We watched it for a bit and then went on roaming. From there we found the multitude of studio sponsored events. We went on a tour of set pieces from Ender's Game, took a trip though Dracula's Crypt, watched a very boring holograph of Redding from The Blacklist, and got to have our picture taken in the herb store from Grimm while I charged my phone at a space designed for the Revolution. We saw the great robotic statue from The Wolverine and basically wore ourselves out.

And there was w00tstock 5.0. We had bought tickets to the offsite event, the great nerd music and comedy show called w00tstock. The show is the brain child of Wil Wheaton from Star Trek the Next Generation, Adam Savage from Mythbusters and comedic songsters Paul and Storm. To give you an idea of the opening, Paul and Storm came out and began singing "Write Like the Wind." The song begs George R.R. Martin to write faster because he isn't getting any younger. Half way through the song, George R. R. Martin walks on to stage, takes one of the guitars from the singers and smashes it to smithereens. It doesn’t end there. Martin is followed by writer Neil Gaiman who forced Paul and Storm to apologize to Martin. Well just watch the video. From, there it just gets wilder and funnier. The show started at 8:00. We were going back to the hotel worn out from laughing so hard at 11:30 PM. That's right 3 and 1/2 hours of humor and amazement. Wil Wheaton is quite a standup comedian and Adam Savage is more talented in comedy and music than I ever would have dreamed. If you want to see, then go here on YouTube. From Patrick Rothfus reading a very twisted children’s' story to an amazing Lego artist, we were held in rapt attention for a show by nerds for nerds. I would also like to point out I have started a small campaign to bring w00tstock to Denver ComicCon, and you can help by posting on these folks' Facebook pages, Denver ComicCon's page and the request w00tstock web page.

The days were a blur. My son and I succeeded on Friday in getting the Hallmark Ornaments but the Klingon Warbird sold out completely. We again roamed around looking at the sights, standing in line to get our SDCC tee-shirts and finding a post office so we could mail all our stuff home. They do have mailing at the conference center but it was incredibly expensive. The estimate for our little pile of loot was thirty to forty dollars. At the post office, a little over ten dollars. Worth the walk.

The next day, we decided to check out the sailing ship. That's right sailing ship. The video game company who built Assassins Creed had rented a full sized sailing ship, and if we stood in line long enough, we got to go aboard, see the game in action, pre-order it and get a bunch of free stuff. The score of that wait was not just the free tee shirt we got for ordering, but we also had the opportunity of meeting Todd MacFarlane, creator of Spawn and getting his signature and VIP passes to Video Games Live, a music event where a full orchestra performed music from video games. My son convinced them that we needed not just a pass for us but for our significant others. We were apparently taking my friend and his son as our dates. Video Games Live could have been a complete disaster, but it was an awesome experience. Here is a small sample. You may notice the number of cameras at Video Games Live and w00tstock. I don't think I attended a single live event where video and pictures were not actively encouraged.

We had signatures, free I might add, of Stan Lee, Todd MacFarlane, one of the original artists of the Tick and Terry Brooks. Yes there were plenty of stars there hawking their signatures, and I even had the opportunity to tell one of the handlers for Sean Astin that I was not about to pay for the signature of a star that fans had made famous. By the time we flew out on Sunday, I was exhausted and had caught a good case of what is known as ComicCon Crud, but it was all worth it. It was being in a fantastical place. I was happy with what we had accomplished and seen although I still worry a bit that my son may not have been able to do all the things he wanted. There were Cosplayers of every shape and size and costuming ability. There were people who were there to gawk and nerds and geeks from every level. They were my people. It was as if I had found a city of 160,000 people that were all like me. I belonged. I hope that perhaps I shall return to Nerd Prom again. Still, it is an experience I shall not forget.

Thank you Colby, Jake and Nathan, without you it would not have been nearly as magical.